Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Papaya, perfect for summertime

Excerpts from a Produce Retailing article by Susie Cable published on 5/3/10

There’s nothing like the taste of a sweet, juicy papaya to remind you of that island vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

Why not offer your customers a taste of a tropical paradise this summer by providing samples of fresh-cut papaya?

Papayas are a great summertime fruit, perfect for adding to fruit salads and packing along for picnics, says Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for grower-shipper Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla.

Bottoms out

Ostlund says papayas are best displayed stacked in no more than four layers with their bottoms facing out. When using wicker baskets, placing a paper towel under the papayas helps prevent bruising.

Ostlund recommends displaying papayas among other tropical fruits.

Though papayas are popular in other parts of the world, many consumers in the U.S. and Canada still are not familiar with them. To draw attention and to show customers how to eat a papaya, cut one in half, scoop out the seeds and wrap it in film with a slice of lime and a spoon.

Don’t limit papaya displays to the tropical section, Ostlund says. Papaya halves with limes are a good way to sell fruit that is becoming overripe. Papayas become sweeter as they ripen, so they can still taste great. Ostlund says cut papayas can be displayed with granola bars or crackers as an on-the-go lunch in the ready-to-eat section. Offering fresh-cut salads of papaya, cantaloupe and honeydew might help shoppers see them as a mainstream ingredient, she says.

Because papaya is becoming a popular salsa ingredient, Ostlund suggests building displays of papayas with other salsa ingredients, such as limes, coconuts, tomatoes, onions, cilantro or celery.

Handle with care

Store papayas between 42-58 F (5.6-14 C), Ostlund says. Papayas love humidity but are fine kept dry, she says. Ripen them at room temperature.

A ripe papaya will yield to gentle pressure, and its color will be mostly yellow. Papayas also become more fragrant as they ripen. When ripe, papayas should be refrigerated to increase shelf life to seven to 10 days, he says.

May is the time to think about summer papaya promotions, grower-shippers say. June, July and August are expected to bring promotable volumes of high-quality fruit.